In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

In the Shadow of GothamReviewed by Teri Davis

Criminal profiling began in the early twentieth century in our country. In this rare look into New York City during the year of 1904, you get a chance to solve a murder with just the tools and the knowledge they actually had available to them at the time when you read In the Shadow of Gotham.

Detective Simon Ziele recently left the New York City police after the death of his fiancée with a permanent injury to his right arm. Now he continues to work with the police in the quiet city of nearby Dobson.

Sarah Wingate, a brilliant mathematics graduate student at Columbia, is murdered gruesomely. She was both stabbed and beaten to death. Why would anyone hate her so much to kill her? Sarah was a well-known feminist. Could this relate to her feminist views?

Ziele with his boss, Joe Healy, join an unlikely group of budding criminologists from Columbia University in an effort to solve the murder. This group immediately informs Ziele that Michael Fromley is the murderer. Why? How did Michael know Sarah? Where is Michael? What else has Michael done?

In the Shadow of Gotham is Stefanie Pintoff’s debut novel. She won both an Edgar and a Minotaur for this novel. Pintoff use her knowledge of life in New York City during this time period which is an obvious strength for this mystery. She used real events such as the General Slocum steamship disaster in 1904, the illegal voting and corruption in Tammany Hall, as well as fingerprinting, photographing a crime scene, and profiling which this group from Columbia specialized in their research.

The story is believable. The main character Simon Ziele is just an ordinary person, smart, who is depressed and works hard. All the characters were well-developed and fascinating. This is a gripping page-turner that is difficult to set down. I look forward to reading Pintoff’s next two novels, A Curtain Falls and Secret of the White Rose.

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